The portrayal of the difficulties people who made their living off the land faced is realistic and bleak but loaded with truth. I'm not certain I liked the characters as people but I was fascinated by the way that proximity dictated "friendship" no matter what personality might suggest. The back and forth narration made for interesting contrasts and perhaps contributed to my ambivalence about the characters themselves. Enidina is based in part on the author's great-grandmother and she is certainly the most fully fleshed out character in the book. By contrast, Mary is predictable, unlikeable, and fully self-important (a big factor in the second attribute). But both of these characters come off as real and possible historical figures. The relationship between the women builds slowly and despite the textual evidence leading toward the ultimate reactions of the women once the climax comes, the reader is still fairly surprised by the strength and venom of the situation. Appropriately set against the seemingly featureless landscape of broad, unending plains, the novel has hidden depths and core strengths just as the plains themselves do. I found this novel powerful and stunning.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.